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The Dark Unwinding

The Dark Unwinding is a Victorian-era YA mystery novel with some steampunk flavor by Sharon Cameron.

In 1852 England, seventeen-year-old Katharine Tulman yearns for independence – but finds herself in want of it since she is an orphaned daughter living with a rather greedy, dictatorial aunt. But she finds ways to exert her usefulness and look to the future when she hopes to have a bit more influence over her own life.

When Katharine’s aunt hears rumor of Katharine’s uncle squandering the family fortune on bizarre, nonsensical pursuits she sends Katharine to be a witness to his madness and get him committed to an asylum. Though an unpleasant task, she is willing to do it – as it is also her future comfort being wasted as well.

But what she meets is not a lunatic – but a genius. He’s childlike, certainly different and eccentric – but a man that is employing hundreds of workers and their families on his land – all of whom were rescued from the workhouses of London. It’s a strange, unorthodox set-up – and she knows that many would consider it insane…

Yet Katharine is terribly torn about notifying her aunt about her uncle’s behavior as she knows that not only his future hangs in the balance, but also the many workers he’s employing, including that of the prickly but handsome apprentice. Her feelings are deepening for them, and she’s remembering that she doesn’t want to be like her aunt.

The estate holds many secrets, though - and before Katharine is able to come to a decision it becomes clear that there are mysteries here – some of which are endangering Katharine herself.

I really, really liked The Dark Unwinding!

It has a spooky start with the sprawling, near-empty manor, disembodied giggles and the disturbing contents in a closet. Sharon Cameron provides a gothic, classic feel.

Katharine herself is a fresh character – she’s poised, self-assured, and trying to better her future. She has a logical mind, a no-nonsense outlook but she’s also got a heart – one that makes her all the more affable. In fact, The Dark Unwinding is populated with all kinds of mysterious, relatable, likable characters that are surrounded by creepy occurrences that question the mind’s very sanity. The linking, emotionally, of these people centers the novel on the tenderness the book delivers as we begin to love this unordinary family.

There’s an intrigue, danger, and curiosity about The Dark Unwinding that is a lot of fun. I especially like the quiet build – the suspense, suspicion, and ambiguity – not to mention the subdued, refined kind of romance I am partial to!

The Dark Unwinding is definitely striking, memorable and great – evoking intense feelings from me and an odd sort of loyalty and love for the book. Very impressive debut! I look forward to more of a similar vein from Sharon Cameron – I hope!

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